Dungeon Master Minute: The DM Train

Every day at the Pawn and Pint, we have a cool daily feature – today’s is a blog post from Donald the DM! 

One of the more challenging aspects of running a successful RPG Campaign is ensuring that your party actually progresses from Point A to Point B of the plot without getting so horridly sidetracked that the story falls beyond repair. Today we will discuss techniques for keeping your story, and your players, on task.

The first and best piece of advice we can give any DM is: Do Not abuse the DM Train!


Players board the DM Train when they are “Railroaded” in the story, that is, forced to go from one plot point to the other without a chance to change course or interrupt flow. While in certain circumstances this is necessary, even enjoyable, for the experience of the players, it is also the easiest way to abuse story telling. The fun of RPGs comes largely from the open world and the player’s ability to impact their course and destiny. The trick becomes accomplishing this without losing the story’s trail.

One method to consider is Burying the Lead.

Purposefully take your major plot points and hold them in reserve, allowing the lesser characteristics of your story to take center stage. Then, regardless of the path your players choose to follow, you can introduce your major plot threads at your convenience. For example, your players have a choice between exploring an old mine, an abandoned mansion or a drained quarry. No matter which they choose, you have the players uncover the same plot related artifact in that location. The players have chosen their path, and you have your story hook.

Another easy method to consider is World Consequence.

If the players wish to stray away from the rumors of a new Lich building an army of Undead, let them. Then, three weeks later, mention how much worse it is getting. If they continue to ignore this plot thread, have it continue to grow unchecked. Eventually, let the Lich and his full Army come crashing down on the players. They had every chance to interact with the story, now the story may interact with them! Remember that your world is not stagnant, and world events change the story whether or not the players are active. Let them know that their actions, or lack there of, will impact the story.

Finally, remember to Bait the Hook.

Give your players incentive or reason to want to see your story told. If they’re not initially invested, give them incentive or reason to want to see your story told. If they’re not initially invested, give them a reason to want to see your story told. If they’re not initially invested, give them incentive or reason to want to see your story told. If they’re not initially invested, give them reason to be. Perhaps the rumors of a far off King abusing power is remote and disinteresting, but have that King’s influence harm the players actions or things in the story they have become attached to, and suddenly it becomes personal. Now the King is interfering with the party, and they have a vested interest in seeing him vanquished.

Curious about other techniques you can use to keep your story moving in a positive direction? Join us at Pawn & Pint for our RPG Workshops with Donald The DM where we discuss world building, character generation, creative story telling and learn new RPGs! These Workshops are Free to our Members, or $5 at the Door for any others interested in attending. Follow us on Facebook and Twitter to see our Events Calendars and plan to join us for our next Workshop!

Don’t forget, every Wednesday is RPG Day! Mention This Post and you’ll also receive a Free Ticket that allows you to Re-Roll One Dice in any RPG you play while at Pawn & Pint!

And did we mention? If you’re running an RPG at Pawn & Pint, DMs always play for Free!

Evolving Personalities: Creating and Maintaining Characters Across Multiple Campaign Settings

When we look back at our favorite RPG stories, it is not just the grand adventures that come to mind. Certainly there are impressive, even epic feats our parties have accomplished, victories and triumphs that warrant retelling. Yet equally memorable, if not more so, are the characters that made those events possible. We see this especially well in the high fantasy tales of Tolkien, Martin and Lewis. It isn’t just about destroying the One Ring, it is about Frodo Baggins. It isn’t just about claiming a birthright, it is about Jon Snow. It isn’t just about defeating the evil Witch, it is about Peter Pevensie.

So too, then, our greatest adventures are not about defeating the Arch Nemesis that emerges from the Void, it is about our Character! There’s no player that gets the fullest enjoyment from their role playing without first developing and becoming invested in their own character, their own contributions to the world. This is even more true when the party consists of sttentive and engaged players. The story will be both forever more memorable and immediately more enjoyable when you take an active hand in the writing, moving, even telling of the story.

To this end we are going to explore how we as players can tie our own PCs more intricately into the worlds they tread. What elements of the campaign setting are adapted to the character’s story, what motivations our characters have, how their flaws impact their decisions, right down to how a strong or favorite character can even evolve between chapters of a story, up to and including transitioning to new stories entirely. The hope of this article is to, by example, illustrate the benefits of developing a character, the merits of character investment, and the ways we can make an RPG more fun and engaging by taking a step into our roles more immediately.


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The Red Raven Inn: On The White Ridge, A Campaign Setting

The White Ridge Region


Far across the sea, in the Western most reaches of the world, there are verdant shores of jade trees, silky shores and beaches of glistening sand. A place where the wildlife is abundant, the minerals rich, the commerce profitable and the adventures legendary. Here any man may find his fortune, any traveler find rest for a weary heart, every artist an inspiration for their magnum opus. From bountiful forests to towering mountain peeks, from dazzling chalk-white cliffs to hills of rolling golden grain, there is something for every explorer to sate their wander lust. The place that has been the product of great works of art, masterpieces of literature and the setting of a thousand fireside legends. The land that heroes call home.

Welcome to White Ridge!

The White Ridge Region

Continue reading “The Red Raven Inn: On The White Ridge, A Campaign Setting”

The Sand Castle: Telling A Linear Story in a Sandbox World


You’ve finished it! Your magnum opus! This is not only the single greatest story you’ve ever written, but an unparalleled adventure the likes of which your players have never dreamed of! You meticulously set the stage, making sure every last piece is in order. Finally, the last domino is in place, every machination set, every surprise turn ready to reveal! The story to end all stories begins! With this Feast spread before your players you remove the blindfold, unveiling your creation!

Then your players promptly run in five different directions.

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NPC Codex: The Red Raven Inn Volume: III


The Feast Of Crimson Skies


Once a year, coinciding with the harvest, a mystical event occurs in the White Ridge Region. The sunrise crests beyond the White Ridge setting the landscape ablaze in a wash of crimson light. The scarlet beams dance over the surfaces of ivory rocks, the sun baked white stone erupting in a dazzling display of dancing lights. As the sun rises into the sky, the countryside ablaze in shades of red and gold, the clouds gleaming in their own prismatic display. All along the King’s High Roads windows are opened, autumnal banners unfurled, and hearths are stoked. The fatted calves are slaughtered, the harvest prepared, the family and friends from far away welcomed in. The Feast of Crimson Skies has begun!

This annual event is punctuated with gifts of the finest harvest bounty being exchanged between friends and family alike. It is traditionally a time for old rivals to put aside their differences and join in feasting, renewing the fires of kinship. For those that find themselves far from home and loved ones there is a place where all travelers are welcome to enjoy the feast. Well known to hundreds of heroes, a blazing hearth and golden ale welcome all who find their way to The Red Raven Inn!

The whole inn has been decorated with the traditional sun stitched banners of goldenrod fabric and crimson thread. Matching flowers of bright orange are scattered on every table, dozens of specially tinted candles lighting the scene. The windows are opened wide allowing the crisp breeze to mingle with the flame kissed aromas. The sun’s radiant beams of scarlet light fill the inn, illuminating the old bar and making even the worn wood seen new again. Travelers, adventurers, explorers and opportunists alike fill the tavern to capacity, but never fail to make room for all those passers by who wish to enter and join the revelry!

Continue reading “NPC Codex: The Red Raven Inn Volume: III”

The Glass House: A Red Raven Inn Module


The following is a Module designed as a stand alone adventure for players between 1st and 4th Level in a Fantasy RPG Setting. It was written with Pathfinder Core Rules in mind, but is compatible with Dungeons and Dragons with only minor changes.

This is a FREE Module for open use, we welcome anyone to use this adventure and explore The Glass House with their party. Feel free to modify the adventure as necessary to accommodate your adventure group, and don’t hesitate to tweak it as you see fit. We would ask in return that you give us credit for the adventure, and if you feel so inclined to kindly send us a message describing how the module was received among your players. Your feedback will determine how we approach future modules of this sort, and is greatly appreciated!

We strongly recommend Dungeon Masters read this adventure all the way through before running this adventure! It will help immensely with your player’s immersion and enjoyment, as well as aid in your ability to craft the world.

NOTE: This adventure is intended as a tie-in to our recent article on how to run a Horror Game effectively for your players. This game module contains elements of supernatural horror and is intended to be at least somewhat scary when players are properly immersed. You have been warned!

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How to Terrify Your Players(And make them love it)

Since the dawn of time, humans have been attracted in some way to that which terrifies them. Why do we seek out such a primeval feeling? Perhaps it is for the simple novelty of it, the adrenaline and blood pumping, or perhaps it is a trial, of which we willingly undergo, in hopes that it will better increase our understanding of the dark and dangerous world in which we inhabit. Whatever the reason: dread, suspense and mystery can add an element to your game that your players will never forget!

Tabletop games may seem the least likely place for an adrenaline packed heart racing journey into the lands of terror. But, with the right preparation by the game master and commitment by the players, it will be an experience your players won’t soon forget!


To help make up for the upcoming terrifying imagery, here is a neutral, non scary clown.

Continue reading “How to Terrify Your Players(And make them love it)”